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Review of Dancing with the Stars: Episode 1 (by someone who doesn’t know anything about dance)

Small disclaimer, I am not a dancer, nor know anything about dance. However, I’ve always enjoyed going to my friends’ dance recitals and competitions. So when my roommates asked if I wanted to watch the new season of Dancing with the Stars with them, I couldn’t say no! So hopefully, whether you are a dance expert or don’t know anything like me, this review of some of my favorite performances from the first episode will be as entertaining as the episode itself. 


 On September 14th, Dancing with the Stars season 29 premiered with an all-star cast. With celebrities ranging from Skai Jackson to Nelly to Carole Baskin, the first episode was bound to be interesting, to say the least. The addition of Tyra Banks as the new host and Derek Hough as a new judge added some spice to the season premiere as well. 


AJ McLean and Cheryl Burke 

Kicking off the night was AJ McLean from the Backstreet Boys with his partner Cheryl Burke. The two of them did a dance called the jive to The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights.” I thought that the song choice along with the dance was an interesting pairing, but the two made it work. While the former boyband star was trying his hardest, it appeared to me that he was still adjusting from his old routines to this fast-paced dance. Ultimately, the duo received an 18 (out of 30) for their performance. Hopefully, McLean and Burke can show ‘em (what they are made of) in order to stay on the show. 


Chrishell Stause and Gleb Savchenko 

Up next was the Selling Sunset star Chrishell Stause and her partner. I don’t know about anyone else, but during quarantine, I binged that show and ate up all the real estate drama. Not knowing who any of the contestants were before the episode premiered, I was surprised and excited to see the real estate queen herself try to conquer the dance world. As their dance went on, however, it was clear to see how new to dance Stause was. Stause and Savchenko ended up receiving a 13 for their dance. 


Jeannie Mai and Brandon Armstrong 

This duo started the season doing the salsa to “Tell it to My Heart” by Taylor Dayne wearing neon green outfits to capture that 80s feel. The two dominated the dance with their energy and fun moves. Ultimately, the Emmy-winner and her partner received an 18 for their performance. I feel as though Derek, Carrie Ann, and Bruno were a bit harsh, but then again I don’t know much about the technicalities of dancing. Hopefully, these two can perfect their dance moves so that we can see more electrifying performances. 


Jesse Metcalfe and Sharna Burgess 

When I found out that Jesse Metcalfe, a major heartthrob in the 2000s, was one of the contesters, I freaked! I haven’t seen him in anything since Dallas, so I was very excited. Metcalfe and Burgess quick stepped to Stevie Wonder’s “Part-Time Lover.” Their charismatic performance, while wowing the judges with their passion, received an 18 out of 30. This tended to be a common score throughout the night. 


Skai Jackson and Alan Bersten

From the moment Skai Jackson and Alan Bersten walked out in all black outfits and black sunglasses, I knew I was in for a treat. The Disney star and her partner absolutely rocked their tango performance of Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass.” One of the best performances of the night, not only in my opinion but also the judges. Ultimately, the duo received a 21 out of 30, one of the top scores of the night. I think Skai’s vivacious personality and Bersten’s status of reigning champion will help the duo go a long way in the competition. I can’t wait to see what else this duo does. 


Justina Machado and Sasha Farber

Another amazing performance was from Justina Machado and Sasha Farber. Machado is a passionate actress, known for her roles in Jane the Virgin and One Day at a Time, so I just knew her dance was going to be spectacular. The duo performed Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” and danced the cha-cha. The energy and charisma that Machado and Farber radiated showed through their dance and ultimately ended up receiving a 21 out of 30. I felt that they deserved a better score, but maybe I am biased because Machado is one of my favorite television actresses.


Monica Aldama and Val Chmerkovskiy 

From Netflix’s iconic documentary Cheer is Monica Aldama along with her dance partner Val Chmerkovskiy. The cheer coach was out of her normal element during this dance as she was the one being coached this time. Aldama seemed to handle it well because the duo received a 19 out of 30 for their performance of a foxtrot to “My Wish” by Rascal Flatts. Maybe we’ll see Aldama throw in some cheer moves in future dances. 


Nelly and Daniella Karagach

This was no surprise to me, but of course Nelly performed the salsa with his partner to his own song “Ride Wit Me.” The dance opened with Nelly and Karagach on a motorcycle and continued the eye-catching performance with backflips and fun spins. Their moves, however, did not impress the judges as much as they impressed me. Nelly and Karagach received a 16 out of 30. Hopefully, these two can step it up so we can see more lively performances from them. 


Carole Baskin and Pasha Pashkov

To end the night, our queen Carole Baskin performed the paso to “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor (no shock there). While their performance wasn’t much, the outfits and props were everything. From the tiger head to the cage, they truly exceeded all my expectations. Even though they received an 11 out of 30 (the lowest score of the night), the judges seemed to get a kick out of it. Derek Hough, a Tik Tok legend himself, made up his own Carole Baskin Parody of “Savage” by Megan the Stallion. I hope the Tiger King memes continue throughout the season. 


Although there were more performances, these few really captured my attention. I will definitely continue to watch the rest of the season from my dorm room with my roommates. Maybe I’ll even learn a little about dance too! I just hope the following weeks are as entertaining as this one.

Anna is a new member of the Tampa chapter of Her Campus. Originally from Minnesota, Anna decided to explore more of the world and move to Tampa, Florida to further her education. She is currently a junior studying sports management and Spanish.
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